Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hawthorns

A question about hawthorns gave me pause today.  Indian Hawthorn, I asked, thinking about a commonly planted landscape plant.  No, hawthorn that you use for tea, was the answer.  I'd like to plant one, she said.

After a bit of conversation, while I'm dredging up what I know about our native hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) -- I'm realizing that it's not at all commonly planted.  A Southern hawthorn (C. viridis cultivar) had inspired this recent post, and I wasn't particularly familiar with the species before.

But a quick search for hawthorn tea revealed that it's a European species (Crataegus monogyna) that has touted medicinal properties and is sold as a popular herbal tea. But it's escaped cultivation and is fairly widely 'naturalized' in the Eastern U.S and Pacific Northwest, apparently.

Crataegus mongyna
My research wasn't particularly extensive, so I don't know if other species are used medicinally, as well, but it was a good reason to know the scientific names of what you're looking for!  Indian Hawthorn, for example, is Raphiolepis indica, not even in the same genus as other 'hawthorns,' although also in the Rose family.

2 comments:

  1. I found a second variety Hawthorn in my woods this winter. Believe it is C. marshallii, parsley hawthorn. Also found the yellow berried hawthorn last year. So interesting to find these plants in my area.

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  2. I plan on planting a downy hawthorn (Crataegus mollis) or two in my garden to attract insects and birds.

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